Tuesday Night at The Dev
By: Alexandra Darling
Tuesday marked the return of The Derailleurs to their weekly Gypsy Jazz Night performance at the Devonshire Arms Cafe & Pub in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Before Covid devastated live music, Tuesday nights at the Dev had become a weekly ritual for many locals. A hesitant half-masked crowd gathered anxiously, seemingly not quite knowing how to be just yet. This was the first show back in well over a year and it definitely felt a bit awkward at first. As The Derailleurs got tuned up, a little crowd gathered outside, smoked and joked, more folks filed in, nervously fooled with their masks, milled around, met up, got drinks, and said in various ways how weird it was to be in a bar again. The band suddenly began, and cartooned into a playful version of Django Reinhardt’s “Daphne” and everyone perked up immediately and gazed in the direction of the music. The Music. Was it really back? As the tune bounced on, the collective shoulders of the crowd seemed to drop and relax, and the ensuing gleeful chatter seemed to indicate everyone had gotten a nice healthy brain dose of Oxytocin. Samantha Z, a regular at the Jazz night grinned “how good it was to see all the familiar faces again...and so many new ones”. It was easy to see that the band was excited to be playing again, and the regular fans and newcomers were ecstatic.
The fact that The Derailleurs continuously pack The Dev on Tuesday nights is a testament to how amazingly skillful this band is. Each of the four musicians are talented on their own, but when they come together, some real magic happens. With Dwayne Brooke and Ken Bussey playing impossible guitar at breakneck speeds, Randy Ball slapping and thumping all over the upright bass, and Trent Renshaw furiously boom-bapping away on drums, they link up like a swinging jazz Voltron, and make it difficult to stay in your seat.
At some point during the evening, they break out an old Stephen Foster tune “Suwannee River''. This one definitely leaves one questioning how Brooke and Bussey can possibly move their fingers so fast, as they appear to spider effortlessly up and down the guitar. As the song progresses it becomes apparent they are challenging one another to a battle of musical wits: trading melodic quips, rhythmic jabs, and apparently hilarious ‘glissandos’ over several choruses. They laugh out approving shouts to one another and the smiling crowd responds exuberantly in kind. They then veer into “Bossa Dorado” and half the Dev is up and dancing to the infectious syncopated rhythms Ball and Renshaw are laying down.
The band only had to play the first few notes of the sweet melodic “La Vie en Rose '' to instantly transport the listener to 1940’s France. This tune gives “me a deja-vuey nostalgic feeling I'm not sure I've ever experienced before”, whispered Jazz Night newbie Amanda B., as she floated by half-mesmerized.
It didn’t surprise their fans when The Derailleurs pulled us out of 1940’s France and dropped us into the surreal world where Django Reinhardt covers Metallica’s “One”. The band sometimes whimsically refers to itself as the alter-ego bandname “Djangtallica”. If you feel like you have heard everything, I invite you to come hear this creative mashup. You’ll not be disappointed. In addition to Metallica, The Derailleurs have been heard to mash Django inspired versions of Black Sabbath, Phish, Post Malone, and even Warren G.
The Derailleurs are a band that should not be missed. And lucky for us all, they can be found once again every Tuesday night at The Devonshire Arms Cafe & Pub.